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For Immediate Release: Wed., March 31
Contact: Joe Reed | Director of Marketing and Communications
412-622-6915, ext. 3801 |


Phipps Conservatory Announces New Roster of Botany in Action Fellows
Grant Fellowship Program Supports the Plant-Focused Research of Eight Doctoral-Level Students

Pittsburgh, PA Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce the 2021 roster of Botany in Action Fellows. This group of eight scientists represent six universities from across the country, with research topics varying from restoring threatened Hawaiian dry forests with an endemic plant species to identifying natural antimicrobials in a post-COVID era. Underwritten in part by The Garden Club of Allegheny County, the Botany in Action Fellowship program will support their work through research grants and science communication training.


Current fellows and their research topics follow:

Samantha Bosco, Cornell University (New York)
Skaru:rę Food Forest Project
Advisor: Dr. Marvin Pritts

Veronica (Vero) Iriart, University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)
Will Herbicide Pollution Cost Plants Their Mutualisms with Pollinators and Soil Bacteria?
Advisor: Dr. Tia-Lynn Ashman

Sarah Klionsky, University of Connecticut (Connecticut)
Influence of Plant Community Traits and Microtopography on Nitrogen Removal in Restored Wetlands on Former Cranberry Bogs
Advisor: Dr. Beth Lawrence

Rachel Reeb, University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)
Is Timing Everything? Using Phenology to Improve Restoration Outcomes in Invaded Landscapes
Advisor: Dr. Sara Kuebbing


Current Fellows:

Sarah Skubel, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (New Jersey)
Natural Antimicrobials for the Post-COVID Era
Advisor: Dr. Ilya Raskin

Emily C. Thyroff, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (Hawai’i)
A Key to Restoring Threatened Hawaiian Dry Forests Resides with the Endemic Santalum Species
Advisor: Dr. Travis W. Idol

Alexa S. Wagner, Case Western Reserve University (Ohio)
Understanding the Impacts of Forest Restoration on Demographic Shifts in the Understory Plant Community
Advisor: Dr. Katharine L. Stuble

Taylor Zallek, University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)
Understanding How Populations of the Aquatic Plant Lemna minor Evolve in Response to Iron Pollution from Abandoned Mine Drainage Near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Advisor: Dr. Martin Turcotte


Since its inception, Botany in Action has aided 62 doctoral-level students representing 29 universities and working in 28 countries. Beyond their field work, fellows’ accomplishments include mentorship of other students; the creation of a botanical field guide, a photography website and various teaching modules; and outreach devoted to making science more accessible to the public.


For more information about Botany in Action, visit




About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA is a globally recognized green leader with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Encompassing 15 acres including a historic 14-room glasshouse, 23 distinct indoor and outdoor gardens and industry-leading sustainable architecture and operations, Phipps attracts more than half a million visitors annually from around the world. Learn more at


Watch TEDx: What We Can Learn From an Old Glasshouse: A look at the evolving way we connect people to nature at Phipps, demonstrate how human and environmental health are inextricably connected, and show that to age gracefully, we must continually reinvent ourselves to evolve with the rest of the world.